Inasmuch as this blog is not really a polished production but just a scratch-pad for anything that happens to come to my mind, I will post this unformed thing. Its some comments I posted on two other blogs, that I want to paste here so I don’t lose them.
Below are two comments I posted on the article http://spiritualsoundingboard.com/2014/08/31/ssb-sunday-gathering-august-31-2014/
There’s a video there of NT Wright being asked what advice he would give his children about knowing Jesus, and he said he would tell them to read the gospels more and imagine themselves as someone in the story. PPT saw this as somehow problematic, and these comments respond to him:
“Objection? No objection, Just asking for clarification. There are only two ways to interpret the Bible: Redemptive Historical, which is of the Reformed tradition, or Grammatical.” (PPT)
Maybe, if your goal is to interpret “the Bible.” But what if you just want to interpret Jesus?
Or rather, what if instead of interpreting the Bible as an infallible inerrant set of words dictated to the writers directly by the Holy Spirit, you want to interpret it as a testimony to Jesus Christ? To Jesus Christ the teacher, not the divine whipping boy who barely existed and did nothing but take our whoppin’ for us so we can sin like Calvin and still make it to heaven.
I think what NT Wright is saying (but what he has to be careful about and can’t come out and say in plain terms) is: Stop interpreting the Bible through the lens of Paul. Stop interpreting the Bible according to the “Redemptive Historical” method in which Jesus is nothing but a divine whipping boy. Start taking seriously what Paul never took seriously, Jesus as teacher.
I used to read a blog called Vridar or Vidar, something like that. Its run by an atheist who’s a mythicist. He believes that Jesus never existed. And why? Because he’s convinced of the numb-skullery of Protestant “scholars” who say the Pauline Corpus was the first Christian document written and the gospels are much later than Paul. Based on this, Neil Godfrey, and his atheist followers, believe that Jesus was originally just a myth, a phantom crucified not on earth but in heaven by demons, because Paul doesn’t say anything substantial about Jesus’ life on earth and never quotes any of his teachings. This kind of view is popular among atheists.
But if we take the gospels seriously, and don’t buy into the lie that they’re some late addition and Paul is the real deal, then we avoid such nonsense. If Jesus as teacher came before Jesus as some pre-existent “logos” (which is obvious since Christianity came from Judaism) then Jesus’ teachings must be real and historical and matter. If Jesus as rabbi came before Jesus as demigod, then his teachings must matter. Turning Jesus into God Himself via the Trinity took the teachings of Jesus away from us (ironically) because it brought forth the idea that he didn’t mean to teach anything but only to save us all by his own action, no free will, no cooperation on our part, just monergism. Also ironically, Paul himself doesn’t call Jesus God but only says “God was in Christ, reconciling the word to himself” which is a totally different idea, and allows for an adoptionist christology in which Jesus was a mere man with nothing of the divine in him prior to receiving the Spirit at his baptism. You know, the view of the Nazarenes, Ebionites, Sabelius, Paul of Samosata, Nestorius, and Marcellus, not to mention Praxeas, and a whole host of “heretics” who didn’t get on board with the Trinity when Rome snapped its fingers.
I don’t know why I mentioned the Trinity thing, but I guess its because historically the only people willing to question the Augustinian premises (original sin, predestination, monergism) were non-Trinitarians. This is true both before (all the names I listed) and after the reformation (the Socinians). Has it actually changed? Many Trinitarians may be questioning Calvinism, but they don’t seem to get too far, because the doctrine of the Trinity seems to alway lead back to monergism somehow. I’m not sure I’ve figured out why, but I think its because it makes Jesus’ humanity fake…makes his freewill fake by making him God in a strict sense…..thereby also making our humanity and freewill fake.
The same subject was also mentioned on Argo’s blog http://unreformingtheology.com/2014/09/17/my-blog-truancy-and-arguing-with-those-who-have-the-invinsible-advantage-of-contradiction/ where I posted this comment: